Landscape, with Summer Bonfires

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 52 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

In the foyer, rippled leaves like giant seaweeds droop. Who remembers to water the plants when everyone is gone? The air-conditioning sends chilled drafts down, but the heat of high summer is yet to come. Overhead, the skylight’s a square of marbled white, like some trapdoor in the basement of the gods. The first fire-stealer broke off a branch of glowing coal, embers hidden in a fennel stalk, falling headlong with it back into the world. Take that, he spat to the vengeful ones. At the edge of the park, eagles circle overhead and return to the same tree. If you raise your binoculars, you can see them bring back things in their beaks, shred pieces of meat for their hungry young. And the liver, oh the liver: peck it out to nearly nothing and still it grows back. See if you can stop the history— Trains and ironworks rushing forward, sparks’ hot striving from struck metal. Hibachis firing up, backyards soaked in the smoke of summer barbecues and shishkebobs, scritch of a match on the sole of a shoe; bonfires staining the woods defiant red, even as the sun goes down.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Yield

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 53 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

“…turning course of a river that goes curving,
advances and retreats, goes roundabout,
arriving forever:”

~ Octavio Paz, “Sun Stone”

 

Tear at the wood of the dead cherry
all you want, my little frenzied ones.
Tear at the bark of linden too,
reduce to rot the peeling wood
in the neighbor’s gazebo; flay the ivy
to pieces, sunder the jasmine from
its vine. More things than these
are inexorable, more hungers sharpen
their tongues than the points
of those fledgling spears. What is it
that you want? What are you looking for?
The wind loves all surfaces, not just mine.
But we take down the deck chairs anyway,
we fold the beach umbrellas, we board up
the windows against the coming storm.
How did it come to be that resistance
is in such gestures, and not in the willow
bending its crystal leaflets to the water,
not in the bird that petrifies the forest
with its singing
? The wind, yes, the wind:
it is the song in a burning building, the sidle
of a sigh along the throat because I held
the sound of your name too long under
a skim of water. I give it up to the air
again now, I turn my palms upwards as I
should have done. What else is there to do?

~ & with thanks to Lila Shahani for the Octavio Paz reminder

 

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Fire-stealer

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 54 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

“‘Heaven’—is what I cannot reach!” ~ Emily Dickinson

How can we be happy again, someone asked; how can we ever feel safe. The girl with the striped headband said, We can. I want to hug all those children who survived and tell them, I just know everything will be all right. Some of the people in the group stood under the far end of the dripping awning to smoke. It kept raining and stopping, raining and stopping, so there was nothing to do but go into the mall to watch a movie. When we came out, night had fallen. We crossed the grassy triangle and let ourselves through the kitchen door. We made dinner: garlicky chicken and rice in broth, a four day old loaf of bread split down the middle, buttered, quickly revived under the grill. Enough for everyone to share. Who was Tantalus? I heard someone ask in the course of conversation. There was ambrosia involved. Stolen nectar from the gods, which in my childhood was the name of a sweet rolled up in colored cellophane for the holidays, dense with citrus and dates and nuts. Punishment, always punishment— for giving in to desire and snatching what the body said it wanted, needed, wanted. The mouth being only the first passage. What the branches bore, gold and sweet and heavy— What the water offered to quench the hot little fire in the gut— The question is always: Does anything ever completely satisfy? Run for it, I want to say. Yes, run with that broken-off branch and the purloined sweetmeat, run even now and celebrate the brightest flame you can find to share with others huddled in the dark.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Dear language, most thick

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 55 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

at the base of the throat upon my
first rising; that foams, goad

and decoy to the blood’s
otherwise routine wandering—
Waking chimes, alarms

of bells are not as surprising
as what you will or won’t take
under advisement—

it is the small
and poorly represented
whose depositions you take,

whose counsel you prepare;
it is the jasmine shedding
its withered blossoms

that gives most scent,
all those night-blooming flowers
hiding their faces from sight.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.